Chris Borland (5’11, 244) Wisconsin: The only thing that could have made Borland’s week better is if he was taller. Unfortunately Borland is still under 6 feet tall and also had the shortest arms of anyone measured. His height is going to keep Borland from being a day 1 pick, but he had the best week of any inside linebacker. He has great instincts in both run and pass defense and showed good enough speed to man the middle in a 4-3. Borland would be a great value pick for the Bears if he slips to the 3rd round.
Jordan Zumwalt (6’4, 231) UCLA: Most scouting reports had Zumwalt marked as too slow to play MLB in a 4-3 coming into the week, but Zumwalt ran well, showed fierce pass-rush ability, and was great in coverage. Zumwalt’s intensity stood out as well, so much so that the coaches asked him to tone it done. If he runs well enough at the combine (4.6ish or less) Zumwalt is a legitimate 4-3 MLB prospect who would be a good value pick in the 3rd round.
Position overview: With Tim Jennings and Isaiah Frey under contract the Bears have one starter and one nickel CB under contract. Teams normally carry at least five corners, so the Bears need depth at the position. I don’t think it is as much of a priority for Emery as DL, S, or LB but I do think Emery will draft at least 1 CB. Both Jennings and Frey are under 6 feet tall, so if the Bears do draft a CB I expect it will be a tall one, especially if they let Tillman sign elsewhere. Here are a couple of big CBs who impressed at practice this week and should be available somewhere between rounds 2-4.
Stanley Jean-Baptitse (6’2, 215) Nebraska: At a shade under 6’3, Jean-Baptiste got a lot of attention from scouts this week. After the Seahawks success with tall corners, every team is looking at big corners like Jean-Baptiste. He had a pretty good week, but his technique needs work. Jean-Baptiste only played corner for two years after being switched from WR so he still has a lot to learn about the position. With his size/ speed combo and flashes of potential, Jean-Baptiste is likely a 2nd round pick.
*Bears met with Jean-Baptiste on Tuesday.
Pierre Desir (6’1, 195) Lindenwood: Another big corner who had a decent week of practice. Desir didn’t stand out early in the week, but Wednesday in drills showed the ability to dominate receivers in press coverage. Desir didn’t play against any NFL talent at Lindewood, so it might take Desir a year or two to contribute in the NFL. If Desir is available in the 3rd round, the Bears could have a developmental corner with a lot of upside.
Jaylen Watkins (5’11, 194) Florida: Rated as the 3rd best corner prospect at his school (Purifoy, Robertson), Watkins stood out all week as one of the best coverage corners at practice. He’s a bit undersized and struggles against the run. Watkins has experience playing both safety and corner and excels on special teams. He would be a good pick for the Bears in the 4th round.
Position overview: Help! The Bears had the worst safeties in the league last year, but luckily 4 of the 5 are free agents and not likely to brought back. Unluckily, Chris Conte is still on the roster. The safety class in this year’s draft is week, but there were a couple who impressed at practice and could have an impact on the Bears defense in 2014.
Jimmy Ward (5’10, 191) Northern Illinois: I covered Ward in my DB primer last week, but he improved his draft stock with a balanced, consistent performance in practice this week. Ward has always been good in coverage, but he answered questions about his run defense showing the ability to shed blocks, highlighted by a stop in the backfield on RB Charles Sims. Unfortunately for the Bears, Ward played so well he jumped up to a 2nd round prospect.
Deone Bucannon (6’1, 216) Washington St: Another guy I covered last week, Bucannon showed great range and closing speed in coverage and was one of the biggest hitters at the safety position in college football last year. Bucannon solidified his 2nd round grade this week.
Terrance Brooks (5’11, 197) Florida St: Short play-maker who had a good week of practice. Brooks has great speed and excels in coverage. He’s been inconsistent against the run with suspect tackling form and a tendency to take bad angles to the ball, but is a surprising hitter for his size. His speed and athleticism will make him an impact player on special teams. If his tackling improves, Brooks could be a starting safety in the NFL and should be available in the 3rd or 4th round.
* Bears met with Brooks on Wednesday.